The artwork created by Barbara Edidin is a visual feast: the colors are vivid, the work is precise and fascinating to experience. A Chicagoan by birth, Edidin moved to Durango, Colorado in 2003 from Arizona where she had resided for thirty years and where she is still represented by an art gallery. During the course of her career Edidin’s work has been shown in galleries from coast to coast and Japan, has been featured in American and French magazines and can be found on a multitude of art web sites.
While attending the Kansas City Art Institute, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University, the artist became interested in ceramics and fiber arts, particularly quilt making. The influence of her quilting background is apparent in her repeated juxtaposition of patterns, from her early still lifes to her present work. However, she eventually realized sewing was not her first love, and that unexpected awareness led her to refocus on drawing.
Edidin’s stunning still life drawings in colored pencil continue to be the work for which she is most widely known. Flowers, fruit and fabric are the humble subjects that compose these arrangements, but these remarkably realistic still lifes overflow with a lushness of pattern and color. Richness, opulence and abundance are some of the feelings that Edidin’s drawings evoked.
After over twenty years of exploring the still life genre, accomplishing works of increasing intricacy and formality, Edidin decided it was time for a change and began a series of whimsical drawings of animals. These lighthearted and decorative colored pencil drawings are meant to bring a smile and maybe even a laugh to the viewer. They express the artist’s sense of humor and fun as well as her love of animals and the close relationship she has enjoyed with the animals in her life.
The whimsical and craft loving side of Edidin’s work has been going along quietly behind the scenes from the start. It has expressed itself as painted furniture, ceramics (including a whole set of hand-painted dishes), and other useful and decorative items for her home. Ever evolving as an artist, Edidin’s most recent creations are sumptuously wrapped boxes and clocks. They feature exotic papers and reproductions of masterpieces from around the world. They are most often made from old cigar boxes and utilize anything from re-purposed furniture knobs to old faucet handles.
The functionality of these most recent pieces has taken Edidin into yet another direction. Her love of music and stringed instruments finds her literally creating banjos, ukuleles, mandolins and guitars. Similar to how she has utilized old cigar boxes and clock faces as the basis for her other art forms, Edidin is now using cookie tins, hand drums and tambourines to form the bodies of the instruments and then adds musically accurate, head-stock, neck and frets. These instruments can and are meant to be played. To these beautifully crafted instruments, she then affixes her visually alluring, patterned papers.
Like all her art, the instruments are a labor of love, and it is apparent when holding them or scrutinizing the surface, that they are meant to give pleasure musically and visually. Delighting in the craftsmanship of her work is just one of many facets a viewer will take away from Edidin’s talent. When asked about assigning a label to her new work and herself; since she has considered herself a painter or colored pencil artist for over thirty years, she replies “Now I’m just a ‘maker’. I’m a maker of things.” One wonders what she will make next.